Gothic Poetry

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Gothic Poetry

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Editat: oct. 30, 2018, 12:43pm

I was fairly certain that this thread already existed, but I cannot locate it and want to post this before it's lost forever in the recesses of my grey matter labyrinth. Oh for a Dumbledore pensieve =)

Disclaimer: For most, this information is redundant. For me, having never attended university nor been present at any lecture, these phases of the gothic theme (ie. from enlightenment to romanticism) are completely unfamiliar territory. Of course I have heard of the romantic poets, and could name a few off the top of my head, but the way they are connected to other overlapping elements is fascinating. I will never remember the detail, which is why I've chosen to post the link to each lecture by this NYU prof.

American Gothic ONE =
(many poems have a cemetery theme)

Poems or Poets mentioned;
Graveyard school of poetry (or Churchyard school)
Thomas Parnell's "Night-piece on Death" (1721)
Edward Young's "Night Thoughts" (1742)
Robert Blair's "The Grave" (1743)
Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751)

Alexander Pope's "Windsor-Forest" (1713) and the mock-epic The Rape of the Lock
pastoral poetry form in Dryden's translation of the Georgics

Joel Barlow (1754-1812)
"Advice to a Raven in Russia" (1812) and "The Hasty Pudding" (1812)
The Vision of Columbus, The Columbiad (straight up neoclassicism, quite pious)

Philip Freneau (1752-1832)
"The Indian Burying Ground" (1788)

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
(drawing on the work of Wordsworth, ie.the preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, 1800)

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) his preface is also referenced
spawned Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) The Raven
which mirrors rhythm of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) "Lady Geraldine's Courtship"
Jonathan Edwards ( - )
Bloom (critic) & W.H. Auden (poet) with thoughts on Poe

American Gothic TWO =
Poems or Poets mentioned;
Poe's The Raven
Immanuel Kant's "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)
reference to the USA Copyright Act of 1790 & International Copyright Act of 1891
Brown's Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799), Arthur Mervyn (1799), Edgar Huntly (1799)
Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740-42) & Clarissa (1747-48)
Susanna Rowson's "Charlotte Temple" (1791)
Hannah Webster Foster's Coquette, or the History of Eliza Wharton (1797)
Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, first published Christmas Eve 1764
Sir Walter Scott & Ann Radcliffe & Scooby-Doo (1969) & Matthew "Monk" Lewis (1775-1818)
Edmund Burke's "On the Sublime and the Beautiful" (1757)
Painter Casper David Friedrich (1774-1840) demonstrates beauty vs. sublime
"HORROR CLOSES DOWN THE MIND WHEREAS TERROR OPENS YOU UP" (Radcliffe) which is in support of the sublime to free the imagination

American Gothic THREE =
Poems or Poets mentioned;
Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle and The Sketch Book
Charles Brockton Brown Edgar Huntly
Edgar Allan Poe
Shakespeare's Queen Mab from Romeo & Juliet compared to Old Deb,

(...this is under construction and will take time to sort out my thoughts...)

oct. 30, 2018, 8:20am

Can't resist just giving a shout-out for The Longman Anthology of Gothic Verse - just in case you're in need of a last-minute Hallowe'en gift for yourself. Great to dip into last thing before bedtime ...

Editat: oct. 30, 2018, 9:01am

Sunday night featured a song collection of scary music (people could call in and leave their favourites) and one was terrifying in it's spoken word element with the background but I have yet to sort out a name for it. Will keep digging.

There are other threads in the Gothic Literature group which seem to cover individual poems;

Goblin Market
The Last Duchess
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

(I will continue to add to the list as I locate them.)

Editat: oct. 30, 2018, 9:19am

Now, that's interesting: five of the poems you mention have become favourites of mine (assuming you're referring to Goethe's The Bride of Corinth) - or were to start with, but Darkness has quite faded from my mind since we read it. I shall have to hunt it up.

Editat: oct. 30, 2018, 11:50am

This link is for Canadian Poetry Online maintained by the University of Toronto, which I use often for writers like Margaret Atwood and Anne Michaels, who are both poets and novelists (and sometimes non-fiction authors and literary critics).

A simple search of 'gothic' brought up a link of 20 poems:

Warton Sr.
Warton Jr.

oct. 31, 2018, 3:28am

>2 alaudacorax: That's a thing? I need it! I still have my Longmans on Romantic Literature and a couple books on 20th Century and Modernist lit.

I'm a bigger fan of poetry than of general literature, and I think one of the reasons I like Lovecraft is that he inserts little spans in this work that could stand well as little poems. The obvious one, of course;

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
and with strange aeons, even death may die."

The last paragraph in "The Festival" is one of my favourite of his passages as well, though that's something of a spoiler, maybe, so people might need to go check that one out themselves.

oct. 31, 2018, 4:06am

>6 WeeTurtle: Well then you will love Ann Radcliffe! Nearly every chapter either starts with poetry or contains 'song lyrics' heard by the heroine during the course of the story.

My Kobo collections of late each have a poetry portion, so even if the formatting is not as good as other publications (online or otherwise), I have learned that the 'find' feature for ebooks is invaluable when it comes to locating poetry repetitively.

Editat: oct. 31, 2018, 9:13am

Poetry Soup lists these options for Gothic Poetry:

Aldington's Childhood
Bishop's Seascape
Brodsky's I Sit by the Window
Burns' 133. The Brigs of Ayr
Byron's Lara
Byron's The Prisoner of Chillon
Byron's The Vision of Judgement (guilty conscience there George? teehee)
Hugo's To Some Birds Flown Away
Lowell's Sunshine Through a Cobwebbed Window
Milosz's A Hall
Milosz's Child of Europe
Plath's The Moon and the Yew Tree
Rilke's Adam
Robinson's Ainsi Va le Monde
Scott's The Lady of the Lake (so good, really loved it when read earlier this year)
Seeger's The Wanderer
Spenser's Ruins of Rome by Bellay
Tebb's The Road to Haworth Moor
Tennyson's The Princess (Prologue)
Turner Smith's The Emigrants Books I & II
von Goethe's The Dance of Death
Warton's The Pleasures of Melancholy
Whitman's Song of the Exposition
Wilde's Ravenna

(I know there's some repetition between posts, but I want a clear view of what each site has to offer)

Editat: oct. 31, 2018, 9:25am

Hallowe'en theme poems:

Bangs' Halloween
R. Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
Burns' Halloween
Coleridge's Christabel
Fergusson's Hallow-Fair
Hardy's The Shadow on the Stone
Keats' The Eve of St. Agnes
Plath's The Snowman on the Moor
Poe's Ulalume
Rossetti's Goblin Market

FYI: Each poem listed here is linked in the above site, just click the link for the poem you want to find, with a brief description and dates if of interest.

Editat: oct. 31, 2018, 9:36am

The Poetry Archive site lists other options:

Arnold's Dover Beach
Blake's The Sick Rose
R. Browning's Porphyria's Lover
Hardy's The Darkling Thrush
Hardy's The Man He Killed
Keats' Ode on Melancholy
Shelley's Ode to the West Wind
Tennyson's Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal
Yeats' The Song of Wandering Aengus

and again, Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market

Editat: oct. 31, 2018, 9:42am

Famous Poets and Poems lists their favourite dark poems:

I'll let each of you wander through each link at your leisure, but I went straight for Dickinson.

oct. 31, 2018, 9:44am

Interesting link to famous female Gothic authors, both poets and novelists. Just because.

Editat: oct. 31, 2018, 9:55am

The Gothic Library site has poems to read in a cemetery. Not that I would, but it's tempting, having already written poems in a cemetery...


Editat: gen. 16, 2019, 8:29pm

Interesting how often the poems here that I'm familiar wouldn't strike me as Gothic. Might be that, I find, a lot of poetry mood can depend on the reading of it.

I tried but I couldn't do it. I wanted to find a short film from the 90s in the National Film Board of Canada of Max Ferguson's reading of Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee." No such luck though. I saw this often enough on television but even youtube doesn't appear to have a segment on early searches. I'm of the mind that Ferguson's narration has so much more character and gritty feel to it than Johnny Cash (lots of his narration to be found).

I did find this one as a sort of "middle ground." It's specifically intended to be a classic horror reading.

Editat: nov. 2, 2018, 11:50am

Happy 'Day of the Dead' or All Souls Day! Here are some poems for contemplation. Light a candle, settle in. (audio recording) (text)
DAY OF THE DEAD by Nola Perez

"Dia de Los Muertos", the Spanish name it. Eve
of All Saints, saw we of the church of blessed assurance
of an observance ushering in fall while easing
our multilingual obsession with death. The sun shines
on unmarked graves, and, "Come winter the same
snow falls, dusting us all," so it is said, and so
honored at The Dollar Tree Store.

Weeks before Halloween, when punctilious roadside tents
fill with demonic orange grins, when what the French
call The Season of Color with its 'sturm und drang' roars
in, I push past the doors of The Dollar Tree. No
automatic entry ushers us in, no Pearly Gates swing
wide to celestial Muzak. We come to purchase the needs
of the living-- tinfoil, plastic bags, detergent: a limpid purple
liquid with its cautionary "Do Not Drink," its "Fragrancia
Duradera." Longevity, one dollar a bottle.

Shelves of seasonal gimcracks stack up at the entrance.
"Adornes" in your face, useless for extending time:
crows with real feathers, spectral spider webs, glittery
black skulls, mockup tombstones inscribed "Rest in
Pieces"--Do Not Disturb-- Don't Laugh, You're Next.
I laugh, anyway. Comics know reality is funny.

All Hallows Eve a year ago, our parish priest
stood in cemetery darkness at a rude stone altar,
celebrating Mass at Bosque Bello, our Beautiful Forest
of flashlights and luminaries. There among graves
of the known and unknown, we broke bread and
shared the cup of blood, there, where the blessed dead
settle deep in their shoe-boxes, and the not-yet-
unmasked confront certain demise.
DAY OF THE DEAD by Aldo Kraas
Today is the day of the dead here at home
Because it was declared today the day of the dead
By Toronto mayor Robert Ford
And some people are mourning their lose today
Because they lost somebody this week
And the others are remembering their loved ones here at home
But I see the tears coming down from their faces at the same time that Some people
are mourning and others are remembering their loved ones
On The Day Of The Dead... - Poem by QalmeTari Misterres of Death Nat. Norville
Written by Susan Cooper writer of The Dark Is Rising Sequence

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the Light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan's Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon's sword the Dark shall fall.

Editat: nov. 2, 2018, 11:50am

More Day of the Dead / All Souls Day themed work:

It's always nice to get some background information on the poet. Makes me want to research Bodmin Moor.


Or enjoy the visual poetry of Guillermo del Toro (producer) with The Book of Life (2014)

Or the musical poetry of Coco (2017)

And just because every day should be 'Nicholas Cage' day (Vampire's Kiss 1988) (Bringing out the Dead 1999) (Ghost Rider 2007) (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 2011) (Mandy 2018)
"It is often said that Cage doesn’t look like a movie star, but he actually does look like lots of movie stars, just from different eras: he has the long face and nose of Max Schreck in 1922’s Nosferatu, the high forehead of Werner Krauss in 1920’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and the wild, bug eyes of Klaus Kinski. These are the very actors Cage always wanted to be like, having grown up watching them with his beloved father, Augustus Coppola, who made sure his son was grounded in the classics."

Only Nick Cage would hire a poet to teach him how to be a poetic drunk...
For “Leaving Las Vegas,” Cage’s cousin Roman Coppola suggested Cage hire a family friend and heavy-drinking poet named Tony Dingman as his on-set “drinking coach.” Said Cage, “He would say the most poetic drunken things . . . Of course, I put them all in the movie.” But “thank God it was only a four-week shoot.” (NC breaks down his most iconic characters for GQ)

Side Note: Bringing Out The Dead by Joe Connelly (the source novel) sounds intriguing...
(he didn't write any, but there are plenty of poems about him!)
I Wish I Were Nicolas Cage
by Roderick Molasar

Well, he's goofy and gangly and thin up on top
And his real last name once began with a "Cop"
But I don't give a hoot about all of that
'Cause his box office draw's made his wallet grow fat.

If you listen quite closely to how this bloke talks
And you then watch how oddly he lists when he walks
Why, you'd think to yourself he'd be good as a clown
But I'm not trying here to just put the man down.

He's admitted that comics were where he got "Cage"
And his movies have made that fake name all the rage.
I've not kept a close count on how many there are,
But I tell you, my brothers, his fame extends far.

See, he's got this charisma that can't be denied
Plus a talent for acting that's as high as it's wide.
And he likes to take risks, gotta respect him for that,
Using methods that sometimes will end up falling flat.

One is called, NOUVEAU SHAMANIC, a phrase all his own,
And, then, WESTERN KABUKI, at which you might groan.
So his style's informed by the books that he reads
And he'll work it to death, or until it just bleeds.

It's a high wire act but with no safety net;
His unwavering panache makes me jealous, you bet.
Though I've tried my damned best to perform like this jock
On the set I'm as lame as a bump on a rock.

See, I've wanted to act since I was in 5th Grade
But allowed time to pass, maybe one whole decade
Before trodding the boards once again on the stage
So far back in the days when there was no Nick Cage.

I was hamming it up before Nick changed his name
Unsuccessfully striving to get in the game.
But to date Central Casting is as far as I've gone;
About all I've done there is to camp out on their lawn.

So I've hatched me a plan, will you please hear me out?
Take the shillings you're saving for Nick's latest flick
And, instead of enriching that overgrown lout
Send them here to yours truly, and best make it quick.

Editat: nov. 2, 2018, 8:30pm

This gets a post all of its own. Nicholas Cage paying tribute to The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe. Live performance at the Alamo in Austin, Texas. Yep, made my day. Manic and marvelous!

Bonus Round? The Raven read by; Vincent Price, Christopher Walken, James Earl Jones, Christopher Lee.

Editat: nov. 3, 2018, 6:47am

Vince Price is fantastic.

Here's more!

a short animation by Tim Burton.

Tim Burton is pretty great, too.

Editat: març 30, 2019, 12:23pm

Absolutely! So glad that you enjoy the humourous element that gothic stories can often involve. Deep and dreary is boring to me, even if the story/poem/film is well written. I like to be taken off-guard by being given the 'permission' to laugh at an oddball moment when solemnity or profound reverence is required or expected. It is present in children's literature in order to keep them from the nightmares they are prone to (otherwise all parents would ban half the content) and I guess I never lost that expectation. I am enjoying Faulkner's southern gothic swirls much more than I expected, because although they are novels and short stories, they read like poetry. Same with Tim Burton. Images and stories ring with that gothic 'nudge' between pals, the don't take yourself so seriously theme, that feeling of artistic creativity without pompous entitlement of high art forms. I was sad to miss his show when it came to Toronto, with many sculptures and sketches on display that had never made it into one of his movies. Same with Vincent Price. He had a keen eye for art and a taste for high culture and habits but never let it get beyond his ability to wink and reassure that all was well, which kept him within reach of the many fans who lived vicariously though him. =) Grasping at the invisible scene, the intangible smirk, was half the fun. Very different vibe from Christopher Lee, although just as enjoyable to watch, and my experience with Cushing is minimal. By the way, I haven't seen any of those Nicolas Cage movies listed above, I just thought it was funny that so many dealt with ghosts/vampires/etc. My kids think I'm nuts but I really love Frankenweenie because of the ode to Vincent Price as the teacher, and the voice cast. Means nothing to my children but those throwbacks are the most fun of all. To know Tim Burton developed these things so long ago and there was no market for them whatsoever, and now he can do whatever he wants whether it is successful or not because of the reputation he has built over the decades. Did you know that Nicolas Cage got Johnnie Depp his very first role?! Full circle. =D

I bought some Kobo ebook collections in order to read the poetry alongside their short stories and novels, and when I get to it, will post them here for comparison. The more flavours the better. Why have vanilla when you can savour a mouthful of Neopolitan!

Editat: nov. 4, 2018, 12:10pm

>16 frahealee: Speaking of poetic drunks, how did I not know that Under The Volcano by Lowry began its story on November 2nd, along with an effective visual of Albert Finney in the film of the same name, looking at a display of black skulls through his dark sunglasses reflected and highlighted to encompass his own downward spiral. "Hell is my natural habitat." Might have to line that novel up for early next year. Along with Ablutions by Patrick deWitt. One of the book reviews I saw online mentions Dylan Thomas in the same breath as Malcolm Lowry. Interesting and appropriate that the film was directed by John Huston. Under the Volcano (1984)

Any good drunk-gothic poetry out there? Rereading Dylan Thomas to locate candidates that might stretch enough to fit...

Many drug-related deaths of famous poets/writers (ie. Jim Morrison) have overshadowed the deaths from alcoholism, so a bit of research unearthed this list:

F. Scott Fitzgerald (died at age 44 in 1940)
Jack Kerouac (died at age 47 in 1969)
Raymond Chandler (died at age 71 in 1959)
Truman Capote (died at age 60 in 1984)
Dylan Thomas (died at age 39 in 1953)
O. Henry (died at age 47/48 in 1910)
James Thurber (died at age 66/67 in 1961)
Alan Watts (died at age 58 in 1973)
Brendan Behan (died at age 41 in 1964)
Grace Metalious (died at age 39/40 in 1964)
Jean Stafford (died at age 63/64 in 1979)
Patrick Hamilton (died at age 58 in 1962)
Hunter S. Thompson (died at age 68 in 2005)
Tennessee Williams (died at age 72 in 1983)
EDGAR ALLAN POE (died at age 40 in 1849)
* he's listed in the top 10 of Best Novelists of all time, Best Writers of all time, Greatest American Writers of all time, and also #23 on People We Wish Were Still Alive list

Honourable Mention: (not on the list above but a fitting anomaly) Charles Bukowski (died at age 73 in 1994)

I have In Cold Blood lined up for next year on my TBR list. May seem like a bizarre sub-theme for literary works but when it crosses the history of most families, it becomes eternally relevant. It amazes me how they can be so articulate as their brain cells are being destroyed, or is that just by Ouzo? ; ) I was told that, during my college years, perhaps just to protect me?! One needs to get sufficient distance from certain events to be able to immerse oneself in this type of literature, in order to see the literary merit rather than just the PTSD associated with personal experience. I suppose that goes for both victim and alcoholic, but most drunks don't remember the trauma, not clearly anyway. How convenient. And I'm not talking about my parents, who were far too poor to spare coinage for beverages. Poverty is surprisingly helpful in curbing vice, and as an effective 'meal-plan', which seems counter-intuitive. If there is no money for drugs or cigarettes or booze or culinary excess, you learn very early on that keeping your nose clean keeps costs low. Low maintenance, low misery. The best things in life are free, and all that. That's why nature trails and libraries are worth their weight in gold.

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 10:55am

Feeling nostalgic for Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip today, and noticed that their sixth album called PHANTOM POWER had its first single as Poets. =) In Gord we trust. Missing his influence... (06FEB1964-17OCT2017)

He might or might not have been a 'drunk poet' but I sure remember seeing them live for the first time at The Key to Bala, and how sticky the dance floor was from all the spilled beer !

Found a tribute by Clarke, 'An Elegy for Gord Downie' suitable if only because it contains the word 'Gothic' and 'vampire teeth' in its text. =) I have the poetry book Coke Machine Glow and gave copies to each of my three sons when they first left home. I think they appreciate well-chosen words coming from a down-to-earth Canadian guy who cared about the environment and the Indigenous First Nations culture and his own four children left too soon. Breast cancer had ravaged his wife long before the brain cancer took him. Lyrics, poetry ... what's the difference? He and Neil Peart might be my fav local boys who most definitely had something to say.
An Elegy for Gord Downie — via A Review of Coke Machine Glow

Elegantly trick-riding rain—
Savvy as Grant Fuhr in the crease—
Levitates militantly, but
Still drops, freckling, speckling sidewalks

In Kingston (ON); its task gets slurred:
Unlike a crack squad of hockey
Players, whose narrow explosions
Propel a puck, forward and back,

With prestigious impact—as if
They’re families of mechanics?
Wasn’t “He Who Walks with the Stars”—
Gord Downie—forensically

The same—gifted with poet genes,
Striking, pursuing Excellence?
Never once inconspicuous,
He vanished intermittently

From wine-country sunflowers to inns—
Under a chrome moon or brass sun—
With his band, so tragically hip,
Loping from moping bar to dope,

Yankee nightclub where the “plastic
Vampire teeth” turn out to be real,
And the hits echo revenge-porn—
Sociopathic advertising—

Grumpy chitchat, gritty upchuck—
Fools smacking dull guitars, punch-drunk
Drum kits, scuffing up Gothic airs.
Some hi-fis clarify a sewer?

He’s too soon dead who was a son—
A husband, a brother, who knew
Canadian was cinnamon-glaze
Donuts dripping maple syrup,

Or to roam Withrow Park, or strum
A guitar as if effecting
A slap-shot, or find th’exotic
Quite at home—The Group of Seven,

Al Purdy’s poems, curried poutine….
He knew that Canadian meant
“Anti-social” poets enjoying
“Long grass” in the wintry stretches,

Pitching the mind’s Rocky Mountains
Toward the sun. Yes, he knew that
Canadian means bundling up
With loved ones, and not letting go.

George Elliott Clarke 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)

FYI: I found this 2018 link reassuring, that not all politics is a debacle.

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 8:44am

Only Anne Michaels can make an abandoned distillery sound romantic;


Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 9:16am

Then there is Margaret Atwood, 19 years older than Anne Michaels, who has been contributing longer to the community of writers, crossing boundaries because no one told her not to. Poetry, novels, non-fiction, children's books, critical essays, etc.


(from Chapters/Indigo online site)
"The appearance of Margaret Atwood's first major collection of poetry marked the beginning of a truly outstanding career in Canadian and international letters. The voice in these poems is as witty, vulnerable, direct, and incisive as we've come to know in later works, such as Power Politics, Bodily Harm, and Alias Grace. Atwood writes compassionately about the risks of love in a technological age, and the quest for identity in a universe that cannot quite be trusted. Containing many of Atwood's best and most famous poems, The Circle Game won the 1966 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry and rapidly attained an international reputation as a classic of modern poetry.


"This cycle of poems is perhaps the most memorable evocation in modern Canadian literature of the myth of the wilderness, the immigrant experience, and the alienating and schizophrenic effects of the colonial mentality. Since it was first published in 1970 it has not only acquired the stature of a classic but, reprinted many times, become the best-known extended work in Canadian poetry. Susanna Moodie (1805-85) emigrated from England in 1832 to Upper Canada, where she settled on a farm with her husband. She wrote several books in Canada, notably Roughing It in the Bush, a famous account of pioneering that is still widely read. In poems about the arrival and the Moodies' seven years in the bush, which were followed by a more civilized life in Belleville, and about Mrs. Moodie in old age and then after death - in the present, when she observes the twentieth century destroying her past and its meaning - Margaret Atwood has created haunting meditations on an English gentlewoman's confrontation with the wilderness, and compelling variations on the themes of dislocation and alienation, nature and civilization. The poems are supplemented by Margaret Atwood's collages and an 'Afterword' in which the poet says: 'We are all immigrants to this place even if we were born here...' " The Journals of Susanna Moodie


"When it first appeared in 1971, Margaret Atwood's Power Politics startled readers with its vital dance of woman and man. It still startles today, and is just as iconoclastic as ever. These poems occupy all at once the intimate, the political, and the mythic. Here Atwood makes us realize that we may think our own personal dichotomies are unique, but really they are multiple, universal. Clear, direct, wry, and unrelenting - Atwood's poetic powers are honed to perfection in this seminal work from her early career."
FYI: These three works of poetry were specifically highlighted in a masters of arts thesis (found online) about gothic components contained in four of Atwood's novels; Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Bodily Harm, The Handmaid's Tale. The first two deal with psychological terror, the second two deal with physical terror and oppression. Surfacing's heroine transforms her bland reality into the gothic through her imagination with the help of the landscape. This gothic-tinge is evident in many of her poems, aside from these three. My first memory of her poetry was in 1983, reading "This Is A Photograph of Me". Haunting.

Here is the link to this particular 1990 thesis:

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 8:40am

LE VAMPIRE by Charles Baudelaire

Editat: nov. 4, 2018, 4:15pm

In the film Chocolat (2000), there is a scene in the chocolate shop where Judi Dench presents her 'grandson' with a book to take with him, a book of poetry ... does anyone know the title or author? All I recall is that she says, "it's not that kind of poetry" and winks at him. He likes to draw/sketch, and has shown her a picture of a dead bird, realistically captured one day. Curious to know what the book contained...

nov. 4, 2018, 4:41pm

Spanish Gothic. A film also starring Lena Olin and Johnny Depp from 1999 The Ninth Gate based on a book called The Dumas Club. There must be poetry here somewhere...

nov. 4, 2018, 8:17pm

>23 frahealee:

Never would have thought of Surfacing as being psychological terror. Psychological yes, but I suppose it's not the sort of material that would put me on edge. My teacher chalked it up to bad mushrooms.

I never read a lot of her poetry as it was long and complicated and less my thing, but I remember "Half-Hanged Mary" and looked it up to read over.

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 8:20am

>27 WeeTurtle: Here is the opening lines of the thesis that compares them. I think it is a case of 'she is her own worst enemy' type of thought process. I will have to reread it again next year to catch specific references to the Gothic. This has been happening a lot lately (watching for underlying elements in everything). I haven't finished reading the whole document yet, so have yet to formulate my own opinion.

"This thesis discusses chronologically, the adaptation and transformation of the Gothic in four of Margaret Atwood's novels, namely Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's versions of the gothic run the gamut from serious to comical but even while parodying the conventions of the gothic, and exposing the 'perils of gothic thinking', Atwood never loses sight of the underlying seriousness of the subject. While there are elements of the female gothic experience throughout the four novels, each presents a specific gothic focus. Atwood concentrates on the psychological victimisation of the individual in Surfacing and Lady Oracle, but on the more literal victimisation by society in Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale. The heroines who are psychologically imprisoned within a negative self image in the first two novels are literally imprisoned in the later novels. And whereas the heroines of Surfacing and Lady Oracle transform the ordinary world into a gothic one through the power of the imagination, the heroines of Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale are subjected to the much more horrifying reality of political oppression. Atwood's exploration of the complex issue of victimisation illustrates a basic ambivalence towards the gothic, for while it might be one of the best ways of embodying female fears, it is ultimately a destructive model."

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 9:18am

I think most people are naturally mistrusting of the woods, especially the backwoods, unless you have been raised in/near them, respecting what they offer and what they stand for. Pristine nature appeals to me because it has not been spoiled by the 'needs' of mankind. I hate the thought of giving land for free to people who think they are improving it, when it was better off without them, but that was the all-knowing rationale at the time. Hemingway mentions it and that movie with Tom&Nicole Far and Away where you have to prove that, as the new owner of that segment of land, you have turned the soil to make a profit. Makes me sick. Leave well enough alone, but this tangent is a 'beat your head against a brick wall' to those more invested in commerce/economy/politics than in preserving our environment and our sanity as a society.

>23 frahealee: Here is the poem I copy-typed from my grade 13 ECW notes (for the Atwoodians group, initially). It is the only binder I kept from high school.
This is a photograph of me

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small farm house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the centre
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)

Editat: nov. 5, 2018, 10:40am

>27 WeeTurtle: Finally able to locate this one. New to me! "The poem, based on a true story, tells the tale of Mary Webster who was accused of being a witch and hung in Puritan Massachusetts in the 1600's."

There was also a tale from Scotland about 'half hangit Maggie'. Lots of YouTube versions and stories, so unsure which are authentic. Found the text, to follow.

I did listen to an Atwood reading at a Literary Festival in Prague, which included 'Faster' about souls left behind (5m:55s). Her own voice reading her own words is always best.
Half-hanged Mary
by Margaret Atwood


Rumour was loose in the air
hunting for some neck to land on.
I was milking the cow,
the barn door open to the sunset.

I didn't feel the aimed word hit
and go in like a soft bullet.
I didn't feel the smashed flesh
closing over it like water
over a thrown stone.

I was hanged for living alone
for having blue eyes and a sunburned skin,
tattered skirts, few buttons,
a weedy farm in my own name,
and a surefire cure for warts;

Oh yes, and breasts,
and a sweet pear hidden in my body.
Whenever there's talk of demons
these come in handy.

The rope was an improvisation.
With time they'd have thought of axes.

Up I go like a windfall in reverse,
a blackend apple stuck back onto the tree.

Trussed hands, rag in my mouth,
a flag raised to salute the moon,

old bone-faced goddess, old original,
who once took blood in return for food.

The men of the town stalk homeward,
excited by their show of hate,

their own evil turned inside out like a glove,
and me wearing it.

The bonnets come to stare,
the dark skirts also,
the upturned faces in between,
mouths closed so tight they're lipless.
I can see down into their eyeholes
and nostrils. I can see their fear.

You were my friend, you too.
I cured your baby, Mrs.,
and flushed yours out of you,
Non-wife, to save your life.

Help me down? You don't dare.
I might rub off on you,
like soot or gossip. Birds
of a feather burn together,
though as a rule ravens are singular.

In a gathering like this one
the safe place is the background,
pretending you can't dance,
the safe stance pointing a finger.

I understand. You can't spare
anything, a hand, a piece of bread, a shawl
against the cold,
a good word. Lord
knows there isn't much
to go around. You need it all.

Well God, now that I'm up here
with maybe some time to kill
away from the daily
fingerwork, legwork, work
at the hen level,
we can continue our quarrel,
the one about free will.

Is it my choice that I'm dangling
like a turkey's wattles from his
more then indifferent tree?
If Nature is Your alphabet,
what letter is this rope?

Does my twisting body spell out Grace?
I hurt, therefore I am.
Faith, Charity, and Hope
are three dead angels
falling like meteors or
burning owls across
the profound blank sky of Your face.
12 midnight

My throat is taut against the rope
choking off words and air;
I'm reduced to knotted muscle.
Blood bulges in my skull,
my clenched teeth hold it in;
I bite down on despair

Death sits on my shoulder like a crow
waiting for my squeezed beet
of a heart to burst
so he can eat my eyes

or like a judge
muttering about sluts and punishment
and licking his lips

or like a dark angel
insidious in his glossy feathers
whispering to me to be easy
on myself. To breathe out finally.
Trust me, he says, caressing
me. Why suffer?

A temptation, to sink down
into these definitions.
To become a martyr in reverse,
or food, or trash.

To give up my own words for myself,
my own refusals.
To give up knowing.
To give up pain.
To let go.

Out of my mouth is coming, at some
distance from me, a thin gnawing sound
which you could confuse with prayer except that
praying is not constrained.

Or is it, Lord?
Maybe it's more like being strangled
than I once though. Maybe it's
a gasp for air, prayer.
Did those men at Pentecost
want flames to shoot out of their heads?
Did they ask to be tossed
on the ground, gabbling like holy poultry,
eyeballs bulging?

As mine are, as mine are.
There is only one prayer; it is not
the knees in the clean nightgown
on the hooked rug
I want this, I want that.
Oh far beyond.
Call it Please. Call it Mercy.
Call it Not yet, not yet,
as Heaven threatens to explode
inwards in fire and shredded flesh, and the angels caw.

wind seethes in the leaves around
me the tree exude night
birds night birds yell inside
my ears like stabbed hearts my heart
stutters in my fluttering cloth
body I dangle with strength
going out of me the wind seethes
in my body tattering
the words I clench
my fists hold No
talisman or silver disc my lungs
flail as if drowning I call
on you as witness I did
no crime I was born I have borne I
bear I will be born this is
a crime I will not
acknowledge leaves and wind
hold onto me
I will not give in

Sun comes up, huge and blaring,
no longer a simile for God.
Wrong address. I've been out there.

Time is relative, let me tell you
I have lived a millennium.

I would like to say my hair turned white
overnight, but it didn't.
Instead it was my heart:
bleached out like meat in water.

Also, I'm about three inches taller.
This is what happens when you drift in space
listening to the gospel
of the red-hot stars.
Pinpoints of infinity riddle my brain,
a revelation of deafness.

At the end of my rope
I testify to silence.
Don't say I'm not grateful.

Most will have only one death.
I will have two.

When they came to harvest my corpse
(open your mouth, close your eyes)
cut my body from the rope,

surprise, surprise:
I was still alive.

Tough luck, folks,
I know the law:
you can't execute me twice
for the same thing. How nice.

I fell to the clover, breathed it in,
and bared my teeth at them
in a filthy grin.
You can imagine how that went over.

Now I only need to look
out at them through my sky-blue eyes.
They see their own ill will
staring then in the forehead
and turn tail

Before, I was not a witch.
But now I am one.

My body of skin waxes and wanes
around my true body,
a tender nimbus.
I skitter over the paths and fields
mumbling to myself like crazy,
mouth full of juicy adjectives
and purple berries.
The townsfolk dive headfirst into the bushes
to get out of my way.

My first death orbits my head,
an ambiguous nimbus,
medallion of my ordeal.
No one crosses that circle.

Having been hanged for something
I never said,
I can now say anything I can say.

Holiness gleams on my dirty fingers,
I eat flowers and dung,
two forms of the same thing, I eat mice
and give thanks, blasphemies
gleam and burst in my wake
like lovely bubbles.
I speak in tongues,
my audience is owls.

My audience is God,
because who the hell else could understand me?
Who else has been dead twice?

The words boil out of me,
coil after coil of sinuous possibility.
The cosmos unravels from my mouth,
all fullness, all vacancy.

nov. 6, 2018, 3:55am

>30 frahealee: It's that last bit following her half-dead communing with whatever that puts this poem towards the Gothic end for me. I've read little of Atwood and I'm not the biggest fan of long poems (and hers tend to be long) but I do like her writing style, particularly the juxtaposition of elaborate and direct verse. It's like a witch weaving an intricate curse, and then turning to the next guy saying "and $#*@ you too!" Hee hee.

Editat: nov. 6, 2018, 8:03am

Agreed! Although I do like to meander through an epic poem, brief cloudbursts can be just as fun!

Investigating Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (one of my favourite loooong poems), I stumbled across Deep South Magazine, and this book of Southern Gothic poetry. 'Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit: poems' is her second collection, as the first was called 'Freaks'. They say that distance, in time or geography, helps solidify images perfectly for poetry, so the fact that she hails from New Orleans and now teaches in Missouri lends credibility to that concept.


Louisiana Ladies’ Watermelon Tea—1890
by Susan Swartwout

This photo holds more than pose, cheating
the sepia tone’s formal stare, or the proper places
and laces that display these unwed female forms

like iced cakes. The ladies have shared pieces
of themselves the camera will never know,
its gaping eye swallowing the scene like a melon seed,

black seeds the ladies squeeze out
between their lips, preening their images in the spit-
wet surfaces. Three maidens seated on the floor

smile the secret that floats between them
like a mimosa blossom. Their chins are tucked in,
eyes half-mooned under lids that seem to smirk

pure pleasure. One cozies her cheek against the thigh
of a beauty who sits in a parlor chair romancing
the camera, bouquet of ferns tucked into her bodice

by one of the others. Beauty raises her melon slice
to the camera: Hey y’all, I’ve passed on, but you can still see
I’m divine. She widens her eyes so you can admire

the image of belles, their arched skirts ringing
in memory. Myths of manhunting,
manipulation, are forgiven in their balm of drawl.

The lady who serves the treat invests everything
in her wrists. Plain and tall, she blunts the violence
of a broad-blade knife thrust half-way to hilt

in melon by the subtle swan’s neck curve
of her hand into wrist. Her other arm bends
near her waist, the hand swooning backward, falling

into curled fingers and pale iron palm. Center-
poised, she pretends in pose to defer to her friend
who stocks more satin fringe than Maison Blanche.

They glance at each other and smile, yes, sugar.
Keeping these ladies from sweet fruit’s excess
has never been simple. Kudzu layers their menfolks’ eyes.

Even clocks can’t hold us apart from their parlor.
Do call again tomorrow; nothing will change.
The ladies will be here, their fingers sticky with boredom.

Editat: nov. 15, 2018, 10:45am

Found this YouTube BBC The Romantics episode helpful. Lots of pieces of poetry recited by actors posing as poets, ie. Lord Byron with 'Darkness'. The volcano eruption backstory helps put the poet and poem in context.

Also mentioned; Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Clare, etc. (53min, slow pace)

It also contains Peter Ackroyd's thoughts on isolation, danger, overwhelming experience, awe, sublime natural setting, the Alps, gothic abbey ruins, escaping the industrialization and time constraints of the city, etc. (This link was what I found when looking up a documentary narrated by Claire Foy in 2014, 'Frankenstein and the Vampyre: A Dark and Stormy Night'. With comments by Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, etc. and actors bringing Shelley and Byron to life, thought it might tie in here. Unsure of poetic content, but still would have been a good follow up to Foy's 'Season of the Witch' epic acting.)

Editat: gen. 16, 2019, 12:00pm

>14 WeeTurtle: Happy Birthday to Robert Service! He's going back on the TBRR (to be re-read) list... now to pick which one?...

gen. 16, 2019, 8:52pm

Can I suggest a poem as an example of "Colonial Gothic"? It came to mind when I was writing about William Hope Hodgson's "The Goddess of Death" over in The Weird Tradition group.

It's the much-parodied "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God" by J.Milton Hayes (no Touchstone). There's an amusingly cynical (but illuminating) quote about how Hayes constructed the poem within his Wikipedia entry.

gen. 17, 2019, 7:22am

>35 housefulofpaper:

I can recite that by memory ... with much use of body language and the odd touch of Robert Newton ...

Editat: juny 15, 2019, 4:25pm

I bought The Graveyard School: An Anthology by Prof. Jack G. Voller earlier this year and plan to work my way through it in April. Thirty days with 33 authors. Wish me luck! Comments will follow as time allows. I am unsure if I should proceed chronologically by birth, or alphabetically by surname, or by poem. TBA. I'd like to start out with a frame of some kind and then just wing it, to decrease tension and keep it malleable. Reading it cover to cover in order would be too easy!

ETA: The experience was thoroughly enjoyable and productive. Writing poetry replaced fiction reading for the entire month, and overlapped a pre-Easter flood and twins returning from afar. I still plan to offer thoughts on my favourites when some distance has filled in the cracks.

des. 17, 2019, 11:14am

Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood

Some Other Garden by Jane Urquhart

On the cusp: Weight of Oranges by Anne Michaels

After I've finished reading them, I'll post contrasting thoughts.